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Five Tips to Fatten Up a Thin Character

Sometimes you've got a great idea for a story, but your main character falls a little flat. What's a writer to do? Here are some quick ideas to help you flesh out a character and make him or her more memorable

1. Give 'em a quirk

Most real people have some little quirk, a habit they partake in every day or some small little action they perform when they are stressed or lost in thought. Not only does giving your character a quirk make them relatable, but it allows you to use that quirk or habit to quickly demonstrate feelings or emphasize those feelings within a scene. If your character always tucks her hair behind her ear when she's nervous, or if he sings the first few bars of Hallelujah whenever he's solved a problem, then when a reader sees or hears these actions they have an immediate, deeper understanding of that character's state of mind.

An Editor's Pet Peeves

We all have our writing pet peeves. You know, those small little phrases or words that make us roll our eyes and sigh whenever we hear them. For many it was George W's pronunciation of "nuke-u-lar" and for others it's mistaking cavalry for Calvary. When reading for fun or for editing, I always try to focus to listen diligently for the unique “voice” of the writer, but like most editors, I have a secret list of cringe worthy writing mistakes that will make me pull out my red pen and wield it like a light saber in an effort to save the writer-ly universe.

The list is small, but any one of these things can hurt your story.

No One Way to Define A Writer

As fiction writers, we are often called upon to think outside the box. To invent new ways to see the world. To break away from the ordinary and create characters who stand out, if for no other reason than their normalness in the context of calamity. Which is why it really amazes me, or rather really infuriates me, that writers as a group seem hell-bent on squarely defining what it means to be a writer and how to be a good one.

Some insist studying the craft of writing in an academic setting make you a better writer. Others are convinced academia is just a sham and a complete waste of time and money.  Then there is the whole “professional editing debate” with throngs of writers insisting hiring a professional editor is an imperative while a healthy group of dissenters believe that self-editing is more than sufficient and paying for editing is just feeding a money-hungry establishment out to take advantage of publishing writers.

Fiona Ingram: Where Do Stories Grow?

Where do stories come from? I wish I had a clever answer but although they clearly come from one’s imagination, life’s events and experiences and people undoubtedly shape the process. I started my storytelling career by entertaining my three younger brothers and their friends with tales of intrepid youngsters (us, of course!) somehow trapped inside a haunted mansion called Gruesome Gables. This mansion was populated by the worst of the worst in the monster pantheon – vampires, werewolves, ghosts, ghouls, you name it, we fought it. Of course, being the young heroes, we always escaped to fight another day.

Blog Tour Spotlight: The Temple of the Crystal Timekeeper

In The Temple of the Crystal Timekeeper, author Fiona Ingram brings back the history-loving, adventure-chasing trio of Justin, Adam, and Kim. This time, a sightseeing airplane ride over the Mexican jungle ends in a plane crash and an encounter with an uncontacted jungle tribe. Thanks to a set of English-speaking missionionaries long in since gone, the tribal leader and his grandson speak English and agree to help the trio stay one step ahead of Dr. Kahlid in the persuit of the third stone of power.

Written with a middle-grade reader in mind, this book offers adventure, wild animals, and a deep dip into ancient Aztec and Mayan history. The lanugage used keeps the story easy to understand while also introducing several Spanish, Mayan, and Aztec words.

Four Reasons You Should Work with Beta Readers & Four Reasons to Consider Paying Them

Spend time in an any active author group on social media and you’ll bear witness to the on-going editing debate. One side says it’s imperative, the other side says it’s a nice to have if you can afford it, a small faction of rebel authors insist it's not necessary at all. As an editor, you can probably guess which side of the fence I sit on, but you might be surprised to hear that as a writer, I totally get why editing feels like one of those nice-to-haves. 
 
While I don’t necessarily condone skipping professional editing, there are some things you can do to help ensure your book is the best it can be (on whatever budget you have). One of those things is to use a couple of exceptional beta readers.
 
If you’ve never used a beta reader, here are some reasons to consider it:
 

Clarity

For Authors: 4 Things You Should Know About Cover Design

When you meet someone new, within seven seconds, you form a first impression. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s bad, but it is always quick. Now, imagine your book is sitting out there on the shelf, waiting, hoping even, to meet a new reader.

Have you given them everything they need to make a good, lasting first impression?

You can’t exactly teach them small talk and pop them a breath mint, but what you can do is ensure that your cover says “I’m amazing! You should check me out! You should take me home! You will LOVE ME!”

Blog Tour Spotlight: Pulse Vampire Series

Vampire fiction lovers, have we got a book, or rather an entire series for you! Take the blood-alternative from True Blood, the teenage-angsty hormone charged dialogue from Vampire Diaries, a half human-half vamp from Twilight, and the seductive allure of a vampire glamour from Interview With a Vampire and mash them all together and you've got the Pulse series by Kailin Gow. 

Kalina is just your every-day seventeen-year-old girl. She’s worried about SATs, homework, and remembering her latest cheerleading routine. And up until a few months ago, she even had a handsome boyfriend. But now she's caught in a love triangle with two goregous vampire brothers, and just one sip of her blood will make them more powerful or return them to their human form.

Blog Tour Spotlight: A Study in Shifters by Majanka Verstraete

Seventeen-year-old Marisol Holmes may be the great-great-great granddaughter of Sherlock Holmes, but it’s hard to live up to the family name when only one mistake can spell your downfall. After trusting the wrong guy in a case gone totally wrong, Marisol convinces the Conclave, an underground organization of detectives solving supernatural cases, to give her a last chance to prove her worth, and maybe even heal her broken heart

After all, as a half-blood jaguar shifter, Marisol is uniquely qualified to solve this murder—and every scrap of evidence points toward the culprit being a fellow jaguar shifter. But is one of her own people involved, or is this all a ploy to kick Marisol’s mother off the shifter throne?

Book Review: The Same Time by Brona Mills

I love the movie The Time Traveler's Wife, so I was excited to read this book. The story begins with an unusual opening...the main character, Stella, is in labor! I have to be honest, I wasn't sure where the story was going at first. A young woman, about to give birth, meets a stranger in the hospital waiting room and he ends up hanging out, helping her through delivery, and then comes back to see the baby. I though were were witnessing a kidnapping in progress, and then the most amazing thing happens...we learn that the stranger is actually a time traveler and he had come to help Stella through a difficult day in her life.

These kinds of stories can be incredibly complex to tell, but the author handles the storyline brilliantly. It does require the reader to pay attention, and to occassionally, just relax into the read and wait for the storyline to develop, but there is always that satisfying ah-ha moment.

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